Click HERE if you’re new to our How to SHOOT series to catch up. These posts aren’t meant to insult anyone, but instead provide some insights into the most elementary starting points for learning to become a shooter. If you’re a new shooter or want to get into shooting, this series is entirely for you. This particular posts serves as an immediate follow-up to How to Shoot – Choosing a Rifle. Because once you’ve chosen a rifle, you need to learn to use it… safely.
This is How to HOLD and HANDLE a gun. Not How to SHOOT a gun, How to AIM a gun, or even How to “Chamber a Round.” So first things first.
Let’s review the 4 basic rules of firearms (#2 is my own addition to the NRA’s 3 main):
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. What’s safe? Anywhere there are no people or anything you wouldn’t intend to destroy if it went off.
- Always treat EVERY gun if it is loaded until proving otherwise. Accidental discharges are impossible if you’ve personally checked to be sure the gun is unloaded.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. This one’s dummy proof. Just do it.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until its ready to be used. Accidents are prevented when planning for them.
I won’t beat these to death now. I will in the future, but not now. Fair warning. Guns are serious business. These aren’t airsoft toys we’re talking about, this is the real deal. Capiche?
Let’s start with a simple basic that was #1 on the safety list. The first thing you need to know about holding a gun is that it should never be pointed in a direction that isn’t its intended target. You never play around with “fake” firing at someone friend or foe unless it’s a defense situation where they really intend to do you harm. Again, another for down the road, but when you hold it, be aware of where the muzzle (the end of the barrel) is pointed.
When it comes to where to put your hands, and if you hope to not look like a fool, on a rifle your STRONG hand (if you’re right handed it’s your right and left vise versa) goes on the rear or pistol grip nearest to the trigger. Remember rule #3, don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you’re prepared to fire. I even need to be reminded of this one sometimes. Next, and again if it’s a rifle, your left hand, or “WEAK” hand (if you’re right handed) will go on the forend of the rifle just as you see the toy soldier pictured to the upper right. Similar to the “triple threat” in basketball, you can go from a carry position with your rifle, to standing shooter’s position, or a kneeling shooters position with speed and ease (like the pic to the left). More on those later.
Your strong hand should be far enough forward so your index finger can easily reach the trigger, but not encompassing the trigger guard. You want to be able to move your trigger finger about freely from the trigger to outside of the guard without moving your hand. This should also determine the size of the rifle you choose. Be sure to grip the gun securely but loosely at the same time. You want to be strong but flexible with it, not tense.
Regardless of style, technique or repetition, the most repetitive practice needs to be the direction your gun is handled in. A safe one.
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